In this week’s musing, I want to look at some of the signs that I had when I was contemplating ways to end my pain. However, I do want to preface this by reminding you, that each person’s battle with depression and suicidal thoughts is unique. This is by no means an exhaustive list of suicidal inclinations that someone may be exhibiting. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. There are people, like me and many others, who will talk with you. If you are in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988.
Before we dive in this week, let’s take a look at some numbers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Note these numbers are from 2020 which occurred during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- The age-adjusted suicide rate in 2020 was 13.48 per 100,000 individuals.
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men.
- In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women.
- On average, there are 130 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020.
- In 2020, firearms accounted for 52.83% of all suicide deaths.
- 93% of adults surveyed in the U.S. think suicide can be prevented.
Surprisingly, though these numbers were taken during the pandemic, the suicide rates from the previous years were just as ominous. Although lately, I do not have much faith in the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this report from the CDC shows a steady increase in suicides between 2000 and 2020.
When I was at my lowest point, the one thing that stood out most to me was the feeling of being tired. Not tired in a physical sense. More so just mentally tired. I was tired of the mental anguish and of the stresses of work life. My brain would not stop thinking of how much better the world would be if I were to just go through with it. I was scared. Tired of being sad and of crying. Tired of hiding behind a fake smile and of feeling worthless and empty. I was tired of the memories of the bullying and of my mother pushing me aside. But most of all, I was just tired.
If you know of someone who every time you ask “How are you today?” and their response is “I’m Tired”, please do not brush this off. The person may be unknowingly giving a subtle sign of the pain they are carrying inside.
Thinking or Talking About “Being a Burden”
At one point in my plight, I felt that no one would believe me. My wife knew of the daily struggles I faced but she could only do so much. I need more help. In our weekly bible study group, we always closed out the evening by going around the room and mentioning any prayer requests. During this time, I would listen intently to everyone’s prayer requests so that I could pray for them throughout the week. The requests always seemed so deep, so heavy, which made my mental health problems seem small to me. I felt that asking for prayer would just be an unnecessary burden to place on someone. Why would anyone want to pray for me?
My thoughts were always: Would anyone believe me? or Would anyone care?
Watch Out for Fake Smiles
People battling depression or mental health issues do not always exhibit physical signs. For me, I had become very adept at hiding behind a fake smile.
My ability to hide behind a fake smile is good — actually, it is scary good Some might even say that I am a great actor. Please, I am not trying to be conceited here, but my fake smile is really good. So good that people likely think I have everything together. My smile was my secret weapon. I use to write in my Facebook posts, “You never really know how bad someone, who seemingly has everything, is so deeply hurting inside”.
Withdrawing from Others
When my fake smile could no longer be held, I quickly sought out an escape. I could be the life of the party one minute and then suddenly, gone. Vanished! And seemingly, at least to me, my disappearance went unnoticed. If I was tired of putting up the appearance, I would quickly become detached and seek out a place to hide.
If you witness this sort of behavior from someone, take note as this person may be experiencing a depressive attack.
Experiencing Extreme and Sudden Mood Swings
Before coming out about my depression, I was a horrible person to live with. As the day became night, my ability to consistently hide behind a fake smile would start to wane. However, my bride always stood by me and just prayed. She will however tell you today about the many mornings, as she was leaving for work, of her fear that I would be dead when she returned home.
They say laughter heals all, well Tammy and I now joke about this all the time. In 1997, she married Husband 1.0. After a few years of learning to work through my software bugs, we got the upgrade to Husband 2.0. Now she has a new Jackie. Still, the same life of the party only now I am upgraded.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.